As an ex-endurance racer, I am very familiar with the training routine of spending hours in a pool, on a bike or running trails and coming home to stuff my face with pizza, club sandwiches and any other food craving I had because “I deserved it”. While this training regime did indeed help me become better at distance racing, it did shit for my speed, power and physique.
Unfortunately, it took a while for this concept to sink into my head. I went from training for the short, sprint triathlons to a half-ironman. I was swimming; cycling and running 3X more than I had been but still weighed the same and had the same body fat. I even started eating healthier foods (albeit MUCH larger quantities), but again, I was exercising more, so why wasn’t I losing more weight?
After picking up resistance training, I have finally learned the answer to this puzzling question that so many endurance athletes seem to run across. Our bodies are very adaptive machines. If you spend every Saturday going out for 3-4 hour runs, your body will adjust by storing carbohydrates in the muscles in order have readily available energy. The more you run, the more efficient your body will become at running, and the fewer carbs it will burn. Unused carbs= fat= weight gain. Add on a few slices of pizza and some Gatorade to “refuel”, and alas, you become yet another overweight marathon runner!
Now, I realize that many of you are shaking your heads and looking at all the Olympic runners out there that have less than 10% body fat. What gives? Genetics, diet and training. Olympic runners are fast, like gazelles. They don’t compete to just finish a marathon, and their training reflects that. They do many HITT sprint workouts to improve their speed, which does indeed burn fat and calories. I would also guess that most of them do not consume post-workout meals of pizza and beer. They are very careful about their diet and nutrition because it takes a lot more energy to carry a 200lb mass across a finish line than a 130lb one.
Does this mean that you need to go out and pick up an Olympic marathon training plan to get a sleek, lean look? Hell no (unless you are wanting to both complete a marathon and look like an Olympian). Of course, another consideration is the desired physique. Do you actually want to look like a marathon runner?? Check out the picture below; is skinny really that desirable to the eye now? Personally, I prefer the sprinter’s build; the chick looks like an athlete that could throw around some weights, achieve an impressive vertical and leave others in the dust on a track.
The best part of the above picture is that is actually more fun and takes less training time to achieve to the sprinter figure. Below is an example training plan that incorporates both resistance and cardio workouts to build strength, speed and power (and is much more fun than hitting the treadmill everyday!)
Monday upper body
1-giant sets 1 – incline dumbbell press with two arm dumbbell row with dumbbell shoulder press. Do one exercise after the other with no rest. After the third exercise rest 60 seconds and begin again. Goal is 10 reps on each exercise and to slightly go up in weight each set. looking at 5 rounds of this
2-Giant sets 2-flat bench dumbbell flyes with decline dumbbell pullovers with side laterals again 10 on everything and 5 rounds
3-straight sets incline dumbbell curls 4 sets x 10. rest 30-40 seconds between sets
4-two arm dumbbell hammer curls 2 sets x 15 reps both to failure
5-pressdowns 4 sets x 10 reps, rest 30-40 seconds between sets
6-dumbbell skull crushers 2 sets x 15 reps both to failure
Tuesday-lower body plus core
1-leg extensions 5 sets x 10 reps, rest 40 seconds between sets, add weight to each set and fail on last set
2-barbell squats 5 sets x 10 reps, add weight to each set and rest 40-60 seconds between sets. Focus on DEEP form do a 6th set x 20
3-walking dumbbell lunges 4 sets x 30 paces
4-smith machine squats with feet forward and close together 2 sets x 20 reps
5-dumbbell stiff leg deadlifts 4 sets x 10 reps, rest 40-60 seconds between sets push to failure on last set
6-laying leg curls 5 sets x 12 fail on last
7-calf raises on leg press 5 sets x 15 reps rest 40-60 seconds between sets and push hard on last set to failure
8-planks 3 sets x 60-120 seconds
9-jackkives with medicine ball 3 sets x 30 reps
10-rope crunches 3 sets x 30-40 reps
11-bicycle crunches 2 sets x 50 reps
1- bench press 3 warm up sets x 10 reps then use 60% bodyweight do 2 sets x 5-6 reps slowly lowering weight then EXPLODING to top…rest 60 seconds between sets then after last set rest 120 seconds then go for as many reps as possible and write down number
2- exploding push ups..down slow explode up 3 sets x 10-15 reps and rest 40 -60 seconds between sets
3- box jumps practice on a box less then 20″ do 4 sets x 10-20 reps explode up and down fast…do the box less then 20 for 2-3 weeks then begin using 20 but stick with 10-20 reps for now
4- conditioning circuit dumbbell punches holding 5’s x 60 seconds with 60 jumping jacks with 60 seconds mountain climbers with leg raises on floor for 30-50 reps. Rest 60 seconds after each round and do 5 rounds
5- Interval training on treadmill do 5 min warm up then intervals on slow portion of interval do 3.5-4.0 speed on faster portion of intervals start with 5.0 and increase to 5.5 then 6.0 etc do 20 minutes intervals then 5 min cool down
Friday-30 minutes cardio only on eliptical level 7-8
1-barbell squats 2-3 warm up sets then 5 sets x 5 reps. Rest 60-120 sets between sets and add weight to each set. focus on perfect form and safety but push heavy
2-deadlifts 2-3 warm up sets and 6 sets x 3 reps add weight to each and rest 60-120 seconds between sets
3-dumbbell flat bench press 2-3 warm up sets then 5 sets x 5 reps, add weight to each and rest 60-120 seconds between sets, push to failure on last set
4-standing push press (shoulder) 2 warm up sets and 3 sets x 5 reps
Sunday-20 minutes on stepmill on level 5 then run on treadmill for 15 minutes on level 6-7